It is very disappointing that the city council chose to ignore the significant and legitimate concerns of fairness and equity regarding both out of town ratepayers and the punitive 5-tier rate structure.
Simply put, Austin Energy should not include costs of Austin Energy payments to the City of Austin which are unrelated to the utility in the rates for out of city rate payers. HURF has done a great job of documenting why this general fund transfer from Austin Energy constitutes taxation without representation. Rep. Workman has indicated he would support challenging the City of Austin on this issue if not addressed.
The 5-tier rate structure employs “sledgehammer economics” by pretending that energy consumption is a good measure of efficiency. The plan requires above average consumers of energy by household to subsidize lower rates for below average consumers with no considerations made for the size of a family, the age or size of a home or other key factors which are critical to fairly and effectively promoting energy efficiency. Large working families, in older homes, who can least afford to pay increased energy costs are likely to be the most impacted by paying significantly higher energy costs per kWh than neighbors with smaller families and smaller or newer homes. A fair and effective system would reward taking reasonable measures to improve energy efficiency in each home irregardless of size or age, and a smart system would reward reduced usage during peak demand times – the 5-tier rate plan does neither of these things.
If the council fully adoptions this plan it will be important to rally our neighbors to sign the petition that HURF will circulate which will bring many of these issues before the Public Utility Commission.